Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Carolyn Irene Hietamaki

GWINN, Mich. — Carolyn Irene Hietamaki, RN, 66, of Gwinn, passed away at her home on June 21, 2019.

She was born in Wakefield, the daughter of George E. and Esther Pelkola of Trout Creek on Dec. 19, 1952. She first became a Licensed Practical Nurse and then continued her education and became a Registered Nurse. As a RN Carolyn became involved in the local RN staff council, eventually being its chairperson for 20-plus years. At this time Carolyn became involved in the state and national organizations. She served numerous positions on the Michigan Nurses Association board of directors and doing the same on national RN nursing boards. This led to Carolyn being involved in local and regional labor councils. For both RN and labor, she picketed local, state and nationally. Carolyn was inducted into the Michigan Nurses Association Hall of Fame and the U.P. Labor Hall of Fame.

She is survived by her husband, Robert of Gwinn; brothers, George (Sharon) Pelkola of Marquette and Ken (Melanie) Pelkola of Trout Creek; sister-in-law, Marykay Chapman of Albuquerque, N.M .; and brother-in-law, Gerald Hietamaki of Trout Creek. Also surviving are the loves of her life, her nieces and nephews, Teresa (Darrin) Viitala of Marquette and their children Easton and Hunter; Chris (Linda) Pelkola of Champion and their children Britney, Heidy and Natalie; Dr. Paula Rechner of Sault Ste. Marie and her children, Andrew, U.S. Navy overseas, Sydney and Ella; Kristi Pelkola of Munising; Robert (Rebecca) Pelkola of Plymouth, Minn., and their children Leah and Will; Melissa (Peter) Copenhaver of Marquette and their daughter Kaija; Jim (Season) Pelkola of Iron River and their children, Brodi, Cannon, Grady Pelkola and Ryker Lesnek.

In addition, she is survived by cousins Diane, Bruce, Norman and many others; personal friends Kris Michaelson, Becky Tarvainen, Barb Maszlewski, Kathy Carlson, Gayla St. Onge and Ann Jousma-Miller; personal and professional friends; John Armelagos RN, Beckie Baldwin RN, Marva (Boo) Wade RN, Jean Ross RN, Dr. David Merz, and numerous other friends local, state and national.

On June 21 former patients, nurses (and doctors), family, local regional and national labor, Marquette County Democratic Party, and the regional suffragette celebration movement lost a driving force. This listing order was the order of Carolyn’s life.

Honoring Carolyn’s request, cremation has taken place and no service or memorial will be held.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, please consider donations to either the Women’s Center in Marquette, 1310 S. Front St., Marquette, MI 49855 or UPAWS (Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter), P.O. Box 968, Marquette, MI 49855.

Her final wish is upon being notified of her passing — hug your family.

Fassbender Swanson Hansen Funeral and Cremation Services is serving the family, where condolences may be expressed online at

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